Time for O's to win and shut up

June 20, 1995|By KEN ROSENTHAL

Here's a suggestion if the Orioles don't like manager Phil Regan's sharp tongue, or the sharp knife he's taking to the roster:

Win some games.

Win some games, and shut up.

"It's got to come from within each player," Rafael Palmeiro said last night before the Orioles ended their seven-game losing streak with a 5-4 victory over New York.

"This is embarrassing, losing every day. Each player needs to look at themselves in the mirror and say, 'Enough is enough.' "

Last night was a start, with the Orioles playing one of their best games of the season against a team that just won two of three in Cleveland.

But let's see what happens now.

Regan's mood swings are rather pronounced, but that's to be expected of a first-year manager whose team is tied for last place.

What is Regan supposed to do, take this sitting down? That's his players' style. He's not the first manager they've tormented, not by a long shot.

This team is missing something, everyone knows it, but no one does anything about it.

Regan, at least, is trying.

Will he succeed?

That's another matter entirely.

Owner Peter Angelos spent $173 million for this team, $50 million more on free agents, then approved the hiring of a manager with no track record.

The result is in full view.

And, like everything else with this team, it isn't pretty.

The season is one-third complete, and Regan is still tearing up the roster. He may know what he's doing, but it's natural for the players to be suspicious. The simple fact is, Regan lacks the stature of a Davey Johnson.

Brad Pennington ripped him. Matt Nokes ripped him. And some players were disturbed by the tongue-lashing he gave them in Detroit, though others said it was warranted.

Excuses, excuses.

Kevin Brown complained about the mound at Tiger Stadium. Ben McDonald refused to pitch on three days' rest, then said he was too strong on five. Rest assured, at least one regular is upset that the batting order is so unsettled.

Last night changes nothing.

For now, last night is an aberration.

"If we win tonight, we don't know if we're straightened out," Palmeiro said before the game. "We'll know if it's turned around a couple of weeks from now, if we've played 14 games, and won 11."

Again, let's see what happens.

Angelos never figures out anything in advance, so he didn't anticipate his new manager might suffer from a lack of respect. Still, Regan deserves the benefit of the doubt. It's the team that has a history of underachieving, not the manager.

Win some games, then talk to us.

Win some games, then complain about the manager.

"It's not his fault. It's everyone's fault together," Palmeiro said. "You can't put it on one person -- we're all to blame. And when we start winning, you've got to praise everyone. That's what it's going to take."

One for all, all for one?

A radical concept.

Slowly but surely, Regan is purging everyone who refuses to get with the program. Pennington griped to general manager Roland Hemond. Nokes whined on WBAL Radio. Will anyone else dare open their mouths?

DTC Oh, it's not everyone. Alan Mills hasn't complained about being overworked. Brady Anderson hasn't complained about Curtis Goodwin replacing him in the leadoff spot, even though his recent slump indicates he might be uncomfortable.

The newcomers? They're some of the best people in the clubhouse. Kevin Bass does whatever is asked. Bret Barberie has handled his benching with grace. Jeff Manto has been with the team two months, and he's already a club spokesman.

Jesse Orosco, Doug Jones, the list goes on.

The disgruntled players have a point -- no one knows what's coming next. Regan predicted last week that Andy Van Slyke would make an impact on the club before the season is over. Hemond traded him four days later.

The constant turnover leads to a circus atmosphere, but if the clubhouse is uneasy, too bad. The Orioles were expected to contend, but even after last night, they're still eight games below .500.

.3l Hence, the revolving door.

The Orioles might miss Nokes when they need a left-handed pinch-hitter in September, but he wasn't hitting, and he can't catch or throw, so what exactly was there to recommend him?

Get a hit, then demand more playing time.

Get a hit, then say what you want.

It was one thing when Damon Buford unleashed his frustrations -- he had a three-year beef. But last night, Pennington issued four walks, threw three wild pitches and committed an error in his National League debut.

Who was he kidding?

Communication works both ways. Regan is an old-school manager. He isn't operating a baby-sitting service. But if a player is unhappy, his door is open.

Like Palmeiro said, it starts from within.

Win some games already.

Win some games, and shut up.

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